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Int J Mol Med. 2015 Dec;36(6):1671-6. doi: 10.3892/ijmm.2015.2360. Epub 2015 Oct 7.

Melatonin affects the dynamic steady-state equilibrium of estrogen sulfates in human umbilical vein endothelial cells by regulating the balance between estrogen sulfatase and sulfotransferase.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, School of Medicine, University of Cantabria and Valdecilla Biomedical Research Institute (IDIVAL), ES-39011 Santander, Spain.


Melatonin is known to reduce the growth of endocrine-responsive breast cancers by interacting with estrogen signaling pathways. Estrogens play an important role in breast cancer, but also in various types of tissues, including vascular tissue. Estrogen sulfatase (STS) converts inactive estrogen sulfates into active estrogens, whereas estrogen sulfotransferase (EST) sulfonates estrogens to estrogen sulfates. Therefore, STS and EST are considered to be involved in the regulation of local estrogen levels in hormone‑dependent tumors and in non-pathologic tissues, such as those of the vascular system. Estrogens have a major impact on the vasculature, influencing vascular function, the expression of adhesion proteins, angiogenesis and the inflammatory state. In this study, we investigated the status of STS and EST in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and the modulatory effects of melatonin. Both STS and EST were highly expressed in the HUVECs. The enzymatic activity correlated with the expression levels in these cells. Our findings also demonstrated that melatonin, at physiological concentrations, modulated the synthesis and transformation of biologically active estrogens in HUVECs through the inhibition of STS activity and expression, and the stimulation of EST activity and expression. Since melatonin decreased the STS levels and increased the EST levels, it modified the dynamic steady‑state equilibrium of estrogen sulfates by increasing the inactive estrogen levels and decreasing the active estrogen levels. Therefore, melatonin may modulate the known different biological actions of estrogens in endothelial cells, as well as in estrogen-dependent tumors and non-pathologic tissues.

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